Television

After edtech & fintech, now is time for media-tech: Anuj Gandhi at VBS 2022

Gandhi was speaking at Video & Broadband Summit (VBS 2022) organised by Indiantelevision.com.

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Mumbai: After the edtech and fintech, it’s time for India to now witness the rise of media-tech, said M&E consultant and industry veteran Anuj Gandhi while decoding the post-pandemic future of the industry at the 18th edition of the Video & Broadband Summit 2022 (VBS) organised by Indiantelevision.com on Wednesday.

The day-long virtual summit was co-powered by broadpeak, with Disney Star as the presenting partner, and NxtDigital as the summit partner.

In a fireside chat with Indiantelevision.com founder CEO and editor-in-chief Anil Wanvari, the media distribution veteran discussed the six major trends which, according to him, will determine the course of the media and entertainment industry over the next couple of years.

Video Trends: Unlike the days of DD and bundled offerings, the modern consumer wants more freedom to choose. With the burgeoning delivery platforms, it’s no longer that case where everyone has to be on PayTV. Moreover, in the present scenario where people are spending hours on social media, even Instagram Reels are ‘content’. Clearly, going forward, the definition of video, as well as trends in the space, will depend on the demand-supply equation. The rise of Free Dish and OTTs during the pandemic is a classic example, and even as their growth accelerates, PayTV will also continue to exist in some form or the other.

Broadband Growth: Broadband has evolved into becoming a utility today; it is no longer limited to video. Considering the amount of consumption that’s happening over work-from-home, education, and other services, video is just a small fraction of it. The Trai’s figure for wired broadband that was stagnant at around 10-12 mn for many years, suddenly shot up to 25 mn, and this does not even include the huge undeclared market run by cable companies. The hybrid ecosystem fostered by the pandemic will continue to push this number further in the coming days.

The fate of linear TV: It is a cause for worry and excitement at the same time. Both in India and globally there’s no denying the trend of people consuming less pay/linear TV as a result of the availability of alternatives as well as the failure of linear TV to innovate in terms of content. The Free Dish market has largely been insulated so far, but it will also experience disruption in the near future as broadband penetration in the hinterland grows.

B2C focus and consolidation: The changes that were effected and necessitated by the growth in digital, especially in the last decade or so, have shifted the focus of the entire M&E industry from B2B to B2C. As the ecosystem opens up more and more to consumers directly, the need for consolidation will also increase, whether it is to meet the entertainment demands of viewers or to simplify content discovery for them.

Rise of FAST: The popularity of Free Ad-Supported TV (FAST) services in the US and Europe, clearly shows that the west is moving towards AVOD. In the case of Asian markets including India, even though SVOD is picking up, the growth of Free Dish, YouTube, and OTT players like MX, is a strong indication of the potential for FAST.

Crumbling walls: Changes in windowing norms that existed thus far will have a far-reaching impact on pricing, quality, and consumption of content as well as the actual segmentation of consumers in a multi-screen environment.

The former group CEO of IndiaCast Media Distribution, who was also instrumental in setting up IndiaCast in March 2012 said he is hopeful about a future where all forms of video delivery – Free Dish, PayTV, VOD -will coexist. However, considering the current regulatory environment, competition, and the pace at which viewers are evolving, he recommended that the industry players must adopt an approach that gives more freedom and power to consumers rather than trying to resist the inevitable change in order to survive in the long run.

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